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Listen To The Brainy Boys – From Africa!

By Betty John | USA

The brainy boys are back!  Not too long ago, they hit the national headlines for their astounding feat of securing admission offers from all eight Ivy League universities, and many other top colleges in the country. This time, the boys are back, sharing their knowledge and skills in university admission processes with students keen on acing their college admission tests.

Harold Ekeh (an immigrant from Nigeria) and Victor Agbafe (son of an immigrant from Nigeria), in collaboration with Frog Tutoring, have teamed up to author an ebook entitled: Hacking College Admissions: How We Got Into Every Ivy League School With $4 Million in Scholarships, And How You Can Too.  For every copy sold, Frog Tutoring will donate a copy of the ebook to a student attending an underprivileged school.

Ekeh (Yale University) told CNN Money recently that he teamed up with fellow Ivy Leaguer, Agbafe (Harvard University) to author the book because he wanted to be able to provide a more substantial answer to the persistent question: “how did you do it?”

According to Agbafe, the book “shares our academic strategies for the college application process.”  He said the book not only answers the how-did-you-do it question but also, discusses the factors that went into their ultimate choices of universities.

In this exclusive chat with USAfrica Journal, Agbafe grants us a rare glimpse into his strategy, philosophy, faith and the strong family values that made it all possible.

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  • You must put in that all night study sessions on Saturday even if it means that you miss that college basketball semifinal on ESPN

 A lot has been reported about you, but not so much about your family.  What is it like in your family?

I have three wonderful siblings. One of my sisters Nnemka is a rising junior in high school and my other sister Nnemdi is four years old. My little brother is a rising sophomore in high school. I have a very supportive family base and at home we really encourage one another to perform well in whatever venture we take on.  We have an extended family that is very well interconnected.  My grandmother always encourages us to study hard and think about how we can live a life of integrity and have a strong relationship with God.

What were your parents’ roles in your success and their reactions when they heard the news? 

My parents have always pushed me to do the very best that I can, not only in school but in every activity that I am involved in.  My mother has always told me that with hard work and prayer anything is possible.  She is the hardest working individual I have ever encountered. She works so hard to give us so many opportunities that we take for granted.  Naturally, my parents were happy when they heard of my college acceptance but they still constantly encouraged me to finish my senior year of high school in the best manner possible and not lose sight of what lies before me.  They are always stressing the importance of service to others.

Did you at any point in time sit down and set a goal that you want to be offered admission into all eight Ivy Leagues schools?

I never made it a goal to be accepted to all eight Ivy League schools.  My focus, my main goal was to gain admission to a University that will provide me with the knowledge and experiences needed to serve my community in the best way I possibly can. For me, it was not about the prestige of the universities that I was admitted to, but rather about working hard in the classroom and engaging in activities I am passionate about outside of the classroom.

So how did you do it? 

  • Think of the amount of work the NBA MVP Stephon Curry puts in to improve every aspect of his jump shot and take this exact mentality to how you approach school when you need motivation.

I feel like there is not a formulaic way to gain admittance to a certain university. I think individuals who are successful in the college admissions process and life in general are people who are engaged with the greater community and the world around them on a daily basis. It is about engaging in activities you are passionate about and trying to find how you can use this to benefit the greater community around you and help others. Taking classes or doing extracurricular activities just because you think it will look good on a transcript or resume is not a good thing to do at all because college admissions officers will see through this. Most importantly, positivity and persistence are important traits to try and embrace. It is more about how you bounce back from adversity that will determine your outcome.

What advice do you have for other young men and women who want to excel in their studies?

If they are willing to work hard and make sacrifices, they are capable of excelling in their studies. This means that you must remember that doing your very best on every single homework question and reading the textbook itself and not just skimming notes are what distinguish those who just get by and those who produce exemplary work in school. You must put in that all night study sessions on Saturday even if it means that you miss that college basketball semifinal on ESPN.  If it means you will have a better grasp of a certain topic in school, then by all means, do it! Also most importantly you must take pride in doing well in school. This means that one must have inner yearning to constantly want to improve and look for ways to do better. Think of the amount of work the NBA MVP Stephon Curry puts in to improve every aspect of his jump shot and take this exact mentality to how you approach school when you need motivation.

  • My faith provides me with a sense of stability and solace that pushes me to do my best but allows me to be satisfied with my best efforts.

What role did your faith play in achieving your goal?

My faith as a Roman Catholic played a significant role in every facet of all the blessings I have received over the past year. My faith calls upon me to try and make the world a better place by giving back to others and speaking out when I witness an injustice on behalf of those who may be oppressed and cannot speak for themselves, so my faith helps me to set my goals accordingly. My faith provides me with a sense of stability and solace that pushes me to do my best but allows me to be satisfied with my best efforts.

Now that you’ve achieved the seemingly impossible, what’s your next goal?

I want to try and help underserved communities gain better access to healthcare and I also want to help people who may feel disenchanted become empowered and more engaged in the political process.   Within the next four years I hope to move on to medical school to further my education.

 

This article was published in the print edition of  USAfrica Journal Vol. 2, Issue 5 | 2015.